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story.lead_photo.caption The backstory of Mystic River Falls revolves around Silver Dollar City's Marvel Cave, which does in fact have a Mystic River in its depths. (Courtesy Photo)

It happened without a lot of fanfare -- because, let's face it, it's been a strange season at Silver Dollar City. But the much-anticipated new water ride, Mystic River Falls, officially opened for passengers on Tuesday.

The $23 million addition to the Branson, Mo., theme park was announced in August 2019. Designed by the park in partnership with Swiss firm RES -- or Ride Engineers Switzerland -- and Barr Engineering, the ride's claims to fame include "tallest drop on a water raft ride in the Western Hemisphere" and a "one-of-a-kind rotating, four-platform, eight-story lift."

Passengers in round boats will ascend an eight-story tower, travel along 180 feet of waterway elevated six stories and splash down a 45-foot waterfall. Brad Thomas, president of Silver Dollar City Attractions, said when the ride was announced that passengers might "laugh so hard you snort -- and you will certainly get wet!"

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The ride isn't the only thing new in that section of the theme park. The adjacent Rivertown area, just behind the Riverfront Playhouse, includes a new barbecue restaurant, Rivertown Smokehouse, adding another $4 million to the construction tab. Thomas said an SDC team traveled to the best barbecue restaurants in the country to choose the menu for the 400-seat facility -- the largest restaurant ever constructed in the park's history -- creating a menu of smoked-on-site brisket, turkey, pork, sausage and chicken, along with signature scratch-made sides and desserts.

Also, just across the way is an all-new bakery, Clara Belle's Cinnamon Bread, specializing in Silver Dollar City's famous cinnamon bread -- only now each loaf bakes in an individual pan designed to capture all the gooey icing, butter and cinnamon. The bakery offers peach, apple and original versions along with a variety of other items.

While coronavirus concerns have changed many operations of the park, requiring masks and creating social distancing, spokeswoman Lisa Rau says Silver Dollar City continues to celebrate American craftsmanship and making family memories.

Coming up July 25 is Moonlight Madness with nighttime hours until 10 p.m. -- with some evenings open until midnight -- and upcoming concerts feature Newsboys on Aug. 1 and Diamond Rio on Aug. 6. Traditional festivals are on the schedule too, including Southern Gospel Picnic (Aug. 27-Sept. 7); Harvest Festival featuring Crafts and Pumpkins In The City (Sept. 23-Oct. 31); and An Old Time Christmas (Nov. 7-Dec. 30).

A $23-million investment, Mystic River Falls is said to be an engineering marvel in the global attractions industry with its one-of-a-kind rotating, four-platform, eight-story lift. (Courtesy Photo)
The water adventure includes winding, roaring rapids set in an authentic Ozarks mountainous river theme, culminating with a waterfall drop that sends riders down more than four stories of splashing, rafting, family fun. (Courtesy Photo)
With the Mystic River headwaters unknown, the adventurers of today seek to find a fabled waterfall that could mark the end of the raging river. They follow the path of Pearl, a young adventuress, along the challenging, winding waterways in pursuit of the legendary headwaters. (Courtesy Photo)
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